CMS teachers prepare classrooms, welcome students from Exceptional Children’s program back for in-person learning

Teachers prepare to welcome back students

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools prepares to welcome students and staff from the Exceptional Children’s program back into the classroom, some teachers worry there’s too many “unknowns” to go back in-person.

“We love to teach, we want to be in the classroom," says CMS teacher Melissa Easley.

But Easley says many of her fellow teachers say it’s not that simple. Easley has heard both sides of the argument. She co-founded the advocacy group North Carolina Teachers United.

Many Exceptional Children Program teachers heading back into the classroom Tuesday wanted to share their concerns, but they were afraid to do so on camera.

Easley is speaking up for those teachers.

“There’s lots of questions that have not been answered, and people are not necessarily feeling comfortable," says Easley.

Some of those questions include how students and staff will stay safe during in-person learning, despite circumstances where students might not be able to wear face covering due to their disability.

“[EC needs] the hands on... there are there is no protection from water droplets or breathing air, I mean, you are right next to them,” says Easley.

Easley also said teachers continue to fear if their schools HVAC systems will work properly once they return to in-person.

“We have layers of health and safety protections in place to make sure students stay healthy,” said CMS’s associate Superintendent of Exceptional Children, Dr. Anne White, during an interview with WBTV. “So do staff members from cleaning to symptom screening to additional protective gear.”

Easley says despite teachers pleas to the district to answer their most pressing questions - including what should happen if a student or staff member were to pass away from COVID-19 due to an in-school outbreak - Easley says many teachers don’t feel they have the answers they need to feel confident to return.

“They’re not actually stopping to think, Is this right? Is this safe? Is this okay to do? Or do we need more time to think about it?,” Easley said.

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